Psychology ETDs

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The phenomenon of posttraumatic growth (PTG) may be particularly relevant for homeless women, who have higher levels of trauma exposure than the general population. However, homeless women also have higher rates of substance use, which some research has linked with less PTG. The present study examined the relationship between PTG and substance use in homeless women. lt was hypothesized that substance abuse would be associated with less PTG, more avoidant coping, and more Posttraumatic Stress Disorder symptomatology. It was further predicted that PTG would be unrelated to psychological distress. Participants were 50 homeless women with histories of trauma who were recruited from local shelters and service providers. In line with predictions, a continuous measure of substance use severity was negatively related to PTG, positively related to avoidant coping when approach coping was accounted for, and positively related to PTSD symptomatology. Importantly, despite their experience with multiple traumas and chronic environmental stressors, homeless women in this sample displayed substantial levels of PTG and rated that growth as very comforting. In sum, these results suggest that greater use of substances is negatively associated with PTG. Overall, PTG correlated positively with approach coping but was unrelated to psychological distress.

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First Committee Member (Chair)

Jane Ellen Smith

Second Committee Member

Harold Delancy

Third Committee Member

Sarah Erickson



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Psychology Commons